Non-churchgoers suffer from high blood pressure and stress.

As per the findings of Professor Marino Bruce of Vanderbilt University, people who regularly attend religious services live less stressful and longer lives compared to those who do not attend any services at all. This finding is particularly effective for people aged between 40 years and 65 years. Bruce is also a Baptist minister. The professor was the study's principal author, with Professor Keith Norris of UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, and nine others co-authoring the study.

The study found that middle-aged adults who regularly attend church, mosques or synagogues or any other place of worship reduce mortality risk by approximately 55 percent. To arrive at these findings, they used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The data was collected by National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control. A total of 5,449 respondents participated in the survey.

Participants were asked a number of questions, including queries related to attendance in church. Questions related to measurable 10 stress factors went under the scanner. The list of measurables included stress-linked hormones and blood pressure. All these factors together are termed allostatic load or AL. Earlier studies have linked higher instances of AL with more disease and earlier deaths. The time span taken into consideration for the study was 14 years.

The study shows some interesting findings. It found statistical indifference in mortality when it comes to measuring the frequency of church attendance. The non-churchgoers were found to suffer from high blood pressure. Paradoxically they also have higher incidences of HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol. The ratio of the total cholesterol to the HDL cholesterol is also high. Much higher AL is observed in non-churchgoers.

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When it came to longer lifespans enjoyed by churchgoers, lower stress levels are not the sole explanation. Even after the AL gets controlled, mortality rate persists higher among the non-religious. It suggests that only an affection towards religion makes a person live longer. 64 percent of the subjects are found to attend church services at least once a year. 36 percent do not attend any religious function at all. Another finding is that churchgoers were better educated and much healthier compared to the common U.S. population. Educational attainments are higher and they are more engaged in physical activity. Incidences of drinking and smoking are also less seen.

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